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Iron Maiden: Live in Bombay

By Azeem Banatwalla | February 15, 2008

Split Magazine: Iron MaidenDate: February 1, 2008 | Venue: MMRDA Grounds, Mumbai

February 1, 2008; the day that thousands all over the country had earmarked on their calendars finally arrived, after what seemed like an eternity. Crazed metal fans donning black attire swarmed at the gates of MMRDA Grounds, Bandra, lining up from as early as noon, with the hope of having the best spot, or as the case was, best half square foot of ground to stand on, for the show. The gates opened at 4PM, after much mob-like yelling by the eager thousands, who, following some surprisingly mild frisking, made their way to whatever part of the ground they saw fit.

There was a black drape across the stage, while opening acts NerveRek and Parikrama checked their sound onstage as the crowd looked on. After two hours of unnecessary and unruly pushing and shoving by the Bombay crowd in the sweltering heat, a ground full of disgruntled fans erupted, albeit half-heartedly, when NerveRek took to the stage and performed a few originals that I was honestly too bored to make a note of. They obviously didn’t have the best sound settings imaginable, but still managed a half decent performance with some scant applause from the crowd. The crowd, however, did start buzzing as lovely Lauren Harris, black leather tights and everything, and her band took to the stage about 20 minutes later. Her music bordered on pop/rock with the occasional blistering guitar solo, but it was better than nothing.

Up next was the “official” opening act to Iron Maiden, Parikrama, who promised not to mess about and play their set as soon as possible. They did so admirably, with their usual set of songs, in the usual order, with the usual tricks by the usual band members, but they definitely got the crowd going, starting their set with “But It Rained”, and ending with the usual “Vaporize”.

And then we waited. It seemed like an absolute eternity, with Iron Maiden‘s technicians walking all over the stage, checking that everything was good to go. That lasted for about half an hour.

And then it happened. It was a rush that I cannot quite explain, and was beyond anything I have ever felt, when the lights went out, the drapes fell, and the Churchill Speech echoed all around the ground. About 50 seconds later, we found out just what the 30 tonnes of equipment aboard the Ed Force One was for, as the lights came on, revealing a rather beautifully rendered ‘Somewhere In Time’-inspired backdrop, and Iron Maiden charged onto the stage, all guns blazing, ripping it up with “Aces High”.

The crowd went crazy, as the band performed immaculately, with Bruce Dickinson, donning a black vest, some rather flowery pants, and a cap, dancing and running all over the place, and Steve Harris and Janick Gers staring into the eyes of fans in the crowd and strumming away. You could clearly see just why Bruce insisted that Iron Maiden are essentially a live band.

After the most amazing possible intro to a gig had been completed, Bruce greeted the crowd, cracked a joke or two, and the band got going again with “2 Minutes to Midnight”. Then came “Revelations”, a song that a whole lot of people in the crowd were delighted to hear, but unfortunately, also a song that a larger majority hadn’t even heard before, hence the response wasn’t all that great. I must mention at this point, that when I say the response wasn’t great, I still mean that the crowd went ballistic, but not with as much fervor.

“The Trooper” was next, and the stage backdrop changed corresponding to the album the song belonged to. Bruce emerged from backstage in a red robe, waving the Union Jack all over the place, and everybody LOVED it! The whole band’s energy was just unbelievable.

Bruce then returned to his regular attire and parted with his cap when they played “Wasted Years”, after which, before the crowd knew just what was happening, a rather familiar voice echoed around the ground, saying “Woe to You, O Earth and Sea…”, and the crowd roared as they played “The Number of the Beast”, immediately followed by “Run to the Hills”.

It’s almost as though, along with revisiting the music of the ’80s, they’ve gone back in time themselves — and that can only be a good thing.

The two best performances of the night came next, in “Powerslave” and “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” which were, in a word, beautiful. I could never even have dreamt of seeing the band play those songs better, with Bruce dancing all over the stage sporting an unearthly mask, and then a torn black robe, belting out the vocals flawlessly, Steve Harris running around like a maniac, Nicko hammering away to glory, and Janick tossing his guitar around and doing, basically, the most bizarre things imaginable to a six-stringer (he ended up putting it on the ground and stomping on it to play the outro blasts at one point). Phew.

As if that weren’t good enough, “Heaven Can Wait” and “Can I Play With Madness” came next, and again, without warning, there were four cymbal counts, and — wait a second, we’ve heard that before — “Fear of the Dark”! The crowd, understandably, went berserk. I’ve always dreamt, as have others I’m sure, that I could have been amongst the masses when the song was played at Rock in Rio, on June 7, 2001, but this is as close as is humanly possible that anybody could ever come. It was surreal, and I haven’t the words to describe it. It was just perfect.

The band wasn’t done just yet, as Bruce implored Mumbai to scream for him for the millionth time, and we were treated to “Iron Maiden”. Halfway through the song, I couldn’t believe my eyes as a giant Cyborg Eddie strutted onto the stage, gun in hand, walked around for a bit, “played” a few notes on Janick‘s guitar with his gun, and went back out of sight. It was just a complete treat. Some thought the show was over as the band abruptly proceeded to walk off the stage, throwing guitar picks and drum sticks into the crowd, but Maiden were just messing with us.

They came back on and played “Moonchild” and “The Clairvoyant”, with Bruce climbing up on to the scaffolding beside the stage to get the crowd into it. They couldn’t have picked a better song to finish their set with than that ultimate crowd pleaser, “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, and what a climax it was.

Bruce then uttered his sincerest thanks and assured us that Iron Maiden would return to India many times in the near future. But finally, it was over. Many refused to believe it. Not just that it was over, but that it had actually taken place and been as good as it was. The performance was electric, the set list was near perfect, the stage design was phenomenal. Nobody cared about how many times they got pushed and fell to the ground. Nobody cared that they had been charged Rs 20 for a miserly glass of water. Anybody who calls themselves an Iron Maiden fan was absolutely awestruck by the end of it, and had every right to be just that. After all the torment of a whole day’s wait, it had been way, way, way, way more than worth it.

Well, all that’s left to say is that the rest of the destinations on Iron Maiden‘s ‘Somewhere Back In Time’ tour are in for one hell of an evening when Iron Maiden hit their respective shores. Anybody who is of the opinion that the band have lost their touch, or feels that age has adversely affected their performances, needs to think again. They’re as good as ever and can still electrify as big a crowd as you can muster. It’s almost as though, along with revisiting the music of the ’80s, they’ve gone back in time themselves — and that can only be a good thing. Up the irons!

Comments

5 Comments. Post Yours Here.
  1. February 16, 2008, 4:07 am ritesh m

    Kickass review , Azeem \m/

  2. February 17, 2008, 1:25 am vasundhara

    I can’t believe i missed it… any way lovely review Azeem, reading it made me feel like i actually attended it… but *sigh* I didn’T…

  3. February 17, 2008, 7:36 pm Suman

    I agree with both the comments above…awesome review, sad that i couldn’t make it…. the set list does look quite phenomenal… esp. w/ lesser known songs like ‘revelations’, ‘rime of the ancient mariner’….what else can I say… Maiden rocks!

  4. March 19, 2008, 8:18 pm CruciFire

    awesome review… i fucking missed it… MC BC my new company…

  5. August 25, 2008, 11:46 am samrock

    i realy misssed that

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